The state of Florida suddenly has a chance to make the New Year’s Six Bowl tournament.
In particular, the Orange Bowl in Miami on December 30th.
Last Saturday’s two shocking results—North Carolina lost to Georgia Tech, 21-17, and Tennessee to South Carolina, 63-38—turned this once improbable scenario into a more real possibility.
The Tar Heels lost to the Yellow Jackets, dropping them to 17th in the most recent college football playoff rankings, one spot behind the No. 16 Seminoles. Now at No. 8, Clemson is the only ACC team ranked higher than the former Soviet Union.
FSU Prediction vs Florida:Florida State Football Preview Prediction vs Florida
Florida QB Anthony Richardson:“When we win this…” before the Florida State game
Tracking Mike Norvell’s success in November:Mike ‘Mr. Nov ‘Norvell wants to train Seminoles to beat Gators
If more chaos like the loss of the Volunteers ensues over the next two weeks, the Tigers could move up the rankings enough to infiltrate the four-team CFP. Which would leave the Seminoles as the highest ranked ACC team for the Orange Bowl.
Clearly, none of these calculations will matter if the USSR (8-3) loses to Florida (6-5) when the two rivals meet at Doak Campbell Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday (TV: ABC).
However, having the Seminoles included in the New Year’s Six discussion at the end of the season is significant. They’ve become nationally relevant again – finally – after spending the last few seasons trying to get out of the grave.
It is certainly a reminder that there are many reasons for fans of the former Soviet Union to be grateful to this season’s team. In Thanksgiving spirit, these reasons are broken down below with some holiday flare.
Preview of a football rival from the former USSR:Florida Gators led by Billy Napier challenge Seminoles to rivalry
The main course often defines the Thanksgiving meal, and there is a resounding theme when describing this team from the former Soviet Union.
The Seminoles turning some of their weaknesses into strengths, especially on offense, are a big part of why they’ve taken a big step forward this season. Here are the most significant improvements that ex-USSR fans should be thankful for:
• Defender: Entering this season, Jordan Travis has never been an established college starting quarterback. The Seminoles have built their attack around him this past offseason, improving their offensive line and receiving hulls. Since then, Travis has become one of the best quarterbacks in the country, ranking 10th among them in a Pro Football Focus overall rating (90.6) and 12th in passing efficiency (rating 161.2). This month, it leads the nation in transfer efficiency (250.09) and completion rate (81.6%).
• Wide Receiver: In each of the past two seasons, the FSS have struggled so hard in this position that no one in the group has surpassed 400 receiving yards. ESPN’s David Hale even rated this wide receiver as the worst wide receiver in the ACC until last season. The Seminoles then added four receivers from the transfer portal, including top pick Johnny Wilson. Since then, they have greatly improved their ability to create separation, generate yards after catch and block. The PFF gives the former Soviet Union the fifth-highest admission score (85.6) in the country.
• Offensive line: When FSU hired Mike Norvell as head coach ahead of the 2020 season, he inherited one of the worst offensive lines in the Power Five. The Seminoles have not been in the top 90 in allowed sacks for four consecutive seasons, including a 125th-place finish in 2019. They were also not ranked in the top 90 in quick offense in 2018 (125th) and 2019 (93rd). With the help of offensive line coordinator/offensive coach Alex Atkins, the Seminoles now rank 14th in rushing offense (214 yards per game) and 36th in allowed sacks (1.45 per game).
• Pass protection: Since the 2017 season, the former Soviet Union has not been ranked among the top 50 teams in defensive performance. This season, the Seminoles rank 20th in passing yards allowed (average 117.37) and 4th in passing yards allowed (155.4), 5th in passing yards per attempt. (5.73) and 20th in passing yards per completion (13.51). Each of the five minor players has at least one interception. Cornerback Greedy Vance Jr., a freshman from Louisville, leads the group with three players.
Statistical comparison of the former USSR and Florida:How Seminole Statistically Compares to Florida Alligators
While the main course usually defines a Thanksgiving meal, side dishes can take it to the next level.
Here are some other developments from this team that fans of the former Soviet Union should be thankful for:
• Successful again with transfer portal: Another season, another ex-Soviet team full of stellar transfers. Nearly every freshman has made at least a meaningful contribution. And the best Seminole player in almost every position is the transfer. Their leader in passing (guard Jordan Travis, 2,526 yards), rushing (running back Trey Benson, 854 yards), receiving (receiver Johnny Wilson, 649 yards), tackling (safety Jamie Robinson, 76), sacking (guard Jared Vers, 7.5 ) and steals (Vance, three) are all passes.
• Three-Headed Running Back Monster: Even as running back Treshon Ward was injured against North Carolina State and missed the next three games, the ex-Soviet Union’s vaunted ground game didn’t miss a beat. Running backs Lawrence Toafili and Benson were more than capable of handling the load. Benson, Ward and Toafili lead as the Seminoles gain 217 yards per game (14th nationally). They haven’t averaged more yards per game in a season since their Warrick Dunn-led team had 222.8 yards per game in 1995.
• Effectively replacing Jermaine Johnson II Keir Thomas: The defensive ends of Jermaine Johnson II and Keir Thomas, who retired to the NFL after last season, raised questions about whether the former Soviet Union could effectively replace them. One game down, the Seminoles already have as many sacks (33) this season as they did in 2021. In the countries of the former Soviet Union, more bags are registered at positions outside the protection zone, which partly explains this increase in production. But scheduled first-round pick Jared Vers (7.5 sacks) and rising redshirt freshman Patrick Payton (four sacks) were also devastating on the brink.
• Built for November: Norvell teams usually perform well in November, the most important month of the season. Combining his seven seasons as the head coach of the University of Memphis and the former Soviet Union, Norvell has more wins in November than in any other month. These teams went 19-5 during this period and boast an average lead of 41.0-25.2. This season, the Seminoles are one win away from undefeated in November for the first time since 2016. At the moment, they have overtaken rivals with a total score of 132-23.
Column about the victory of the former Soviet Union over Louisiana:Florida State Football hits Louisiana, comes into play in Florida, shooting at full blast
Now for the cherry on top.
Fans of the former Soviet Union should be grateful for how easy it is to root for this team. The Seminoles had many funny personalities and moments throughout the season. Here are some of the more notable ones:
• Mike Pittman on blogs: With nearly 75,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, wide receiver Micah Pittman advertises herself better than perhaps any player on the team. His vlogs provide a deeper insight into what it’s like to play American football. They also give fans a better idea of what some ex-Soviet players are like off the pitch.
Below is an excerpt from Pittman’s vlog during pre-season camp in August.
• Breaking the rock: This is not a new Norvell tradition. But FSU has broken rock after wins much more often than in the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Who doesn’t want to see someone hitting a stone with a sledgehammer?
Below is a clip of defensive coordinator Adam Fuller breaking rock after the Seminoles’ 38-3 victory in Syracuse earlier this month.
• Cinematic summary: After each game, FSU publishes a “cinematic review”. These videos give fans a behind-the-scenes look in a way that other teams around the country can’t.
Below is a cinematic recap of the Seminoles’ 49-17 victory over Louisiana last Saturday.
• Robert Cooper racing Norvell: At the start of every football practice, ex-Soviet defenseman Robert Cooper runs Norvell down the length of the pitch. Cooper rarely wins, but it’s a fun tradition that gives a glimpse of Norvell’s connection to many of his players.
Below is a video of their race before practice on Monday.
• Video from TikTok: From time to time, a player from the USSR comes out with an entertaining TikTok. Quarterback Gino English had a case this week to watch.
Who: FSU (8-3) vs. Florida (6-5)
When where: Friday, 7:30 pm, Doak Campbell Stadium.
Contact Carter Karels at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Carter Carels. You can also follow our news on Facebook (NoleSports) and Instagram (tlhnolesports).
No one covers the Knowles like a Democrat from Tallahassee. Subscribe using the link at the top of the page and don’t miss a moment.